Heard-Mixon Elementary School students had a special visit from Ronald McDonald Wednesday morning when the McDonald's mascot discussed tolerance, bullying and friendship with children at the school in a music and magic filled performance.
"I've traveled all over the world and I've been to all kinds of countries where they speak different languages," McDonald said, "and you know what I found in all those places - friends."
He said the word friend sounds and looks very similar in Spanish, Italian and French - amigo, amico and ami - which is a good way to remember people who appear very different often have some ways they are alike.
He added having friends who are different is a good thing.
"Then you can learn from each other and grow," McDonald said.
At the beginning of the performance, McDonald divided the students into three groups and had them make the sound of a thunderstorm. Some students made the sound of the wailing wind, others the sound of falling rain and others, of course, loud claps of thunder.
"One of the neat things I like when I'm with my friends is the great things we can do together," McDonald said. "We call that cooperation."
McDonald also had the students participate in another cooperation exercise where the same groups made the phrase "boom, laka-laka-laka, boom, laka-laka-laka, boom, laka-laka, chicka-boom."
The students then said the phrase to the beat of a jazzy horn, bass and guitar melody.
"One instrument sounds nice, but when you put a bunch together, you have a symphony," McDonald said.
After the cooperation exercises McDonald sang a song about friendship and said friends do not pick on each other, laugh at the other's mistakes, call the other names or place blame on the other.
He said bullies can be boys or girls and come in all shapes and sizes.
"Bullies want you to fail because they think - I don't think, but they think - it makes them look better," McDonald said.
He said if a bully picks on children, they should ignore it and believe in themselves. He said a friend would tell a parent or a teacher.
However, McDonald said parents and teachers are not always around to scold a bully.
"When a teacher is near, bullies disappear," McDonald said.
McDonald illustrated this point by playing the Bully, Bully, Bully Game, where a student and a teacher had to guess which baseball cap a round, green bully was under in sort of a shell game.
The teacher McDonald picked never correctly guessed where the bully was to prove his point "when a teacher is near, bullies disappear."
Really, the teacher's bully was stuck to her back.
"I guess that just shows you when a teacher's back is turned, a bully will return," McDonald said.
He told the students if one of their friends ever started bullying someone, to tell them to stop because not only would they be helping the person being picked on, but also helping their friend to become a better person.
McDonald also encouraged the students to protect students they didn't know from bullies because they might become a friend.
"Working together makes us better," McDonald said.